LESPI's Letter re Rezoning 3rd & 4th Avenues

September 10, 2017

Jamie Rogers
Board Chair
Manhattan Community Board No.3
59 East 4th Street
New York, NY  10003

Dear Mr. Rogers:

For years the East Village / Lower East Side has witnessed an accelerating loss of the low scale historic buildings, mom-and-pop stores, and affordable apartments that have always been a large part of its heart and soul. Recently we saw yet another example of this with the demolition of the wonderfully ornate historic residential buildings at 112-120 East 11th Street, which are now in the process of being replaced by a 12 story hotel. This is not the type of construction intended to benefit the community.

The mayor’s recent proposal for a tech hub along Third and Fourth Avenues and East 14th Street threatens to further intensify this trend by putting even more development pressure on our community.

I’m writing on behalf of Lower East Side Preservation Initiative (LESPI) to support Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s proposal to rezone Third and Fourth Avenues from C6-2A to C1-7A. This will help retain the neighborhood’s residential character, maintain our stock of affordable housing, and prevent the out-of-scale commercial development that will diminish the East Village / Lower East Side’s special character.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

cc: MyPhuong Chung, Manhattan Community Board No.3
Susan Stetzer, Manhattan Community Board No.3 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


 

LESPI's Letter re CB3 Support for Small Business

June 6, 2017

Jamie Rogers, Chair
Community Board No. 3, Manhattan
59 East 4th Street
New York, NY  10003

Dear Chair Rogers:

I am writing to express the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative’s support for new legislative and other means to assist local “mom and pop” retail stores to stay in business.

Small independent businesses have traditionally comprised the very heart of our Lower East Side neighborhoods. With ever increasing rents and the demolition of the city’s older, smaller buildings for replacement by much larger structures with larger retail space, “mom and pops” are increasingly being displaced by corporate chains and franchises. This affects the very character of our city, and undoubtedly affects democratic governing, as national corporations and franchises are likely to be less rooted and involved in community affairs.

We believe that small independent businesses should be actively nurtured and protected. State Senator Brad Hoylman has proposed measures that should be seriously considered:

- Eliminate the Commercial Rent Tax for small businesses

- Eliminate tax deductions for income loss for landlords who “warehouse” commercial space for one year or more, to hold out for higher rent

- Create new zoning districts that limit “formula retail”

- Compile a state registry to identify small businesses 30 years old or older, for future benefits.

As a preservation organization, we know that “mom and pops” typically fit well within the smaller commercial spaces available in historic buildings, such as those found in the Lower East Side. The human scale of historic buildings and small retail provide an excellent urban environment for those who live, work and visit historic neighborhoods.

We respectfully ask that Community Board No. 3 issues, at the earliest opportunity, a resolution outlining specific strategies for supporting “mom and pop” businesses. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

cc: The Hon. Margaret Chin, NY City Council This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
The Hon. Rosie Mendez, NY City Council This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
David Ford, Community Board 3 Economic Development Committee

 

LESPI's Letter re NYC Small Business Rent Tax

February 25, 2017

Hon. Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker
New York City Council
105 East 116th St
New York, NY 10029

By mail and email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

re: NY City Council Proposed Commercial Rent Tax Legislation

Dear Councilmember Mark-Viverito:

I am writing to express the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative’s support for new legislation being considered by the NYC Council to reduce taxes paid by “mom and pop” small retail establishments by exempting them from paying the Commercial Rent Tax.

Small independent businesses have traditionally comprised the very heart of Lower East Side neighborhoods, as well as other neighborhoods around the city. With ever increasing rents and the demolition of the city’s older, smaller buildings for replacement by much larger buildings with larger retail space, “mom and pops” are increasingly being displaced by large corporate chains and franchises. This affects the very character of our city, and undoubtedly affects democratic governing as national corporations and franchises are likely to be less rooted and involved in community affairs. Although we cannot comment on the specifics of the proposed legislation, we strongly believe that small independent businesses should be nurtured and protected.

As a preservation organization, we know that “mom and pops” typically fit well within the smaller commercial spaces available in historic buildings, such as those found in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The human scale of historic buildings and small retail provide an excellent urban environment for those who live, work and visit historic neighborhoods.

We respectfully ask that City Council moves to pass this legislation at the earliest opportunity. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

cc: Hon. Margaret Chin, NY City Council This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Hon. Rosie Mendez, NY City Council This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

LESPI's Letter re landmarking 138 Second Avenue

October 28, 2015

Meenakshi Srinivasan, Chair
NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor North
New York, NY 10007

re: Landmark Designation of 138 Second Avenue

Dear Chair Srinivasan:

I am writing to strongly support the designation of 138 Second Avenue in Manhattan's East Village / Lower East Side as an Individual Landmark.

In 1832, when this grand residential building was constructed, 138 Second Avenue was one of many such homes that once lined this part of Second Avenue. The building retains most of its Federal characteristics. The simple yet elegant design - including Flemish bond brickwork, and most notably its Gibbsian entrance surround - clearly show the building’s origins in this early period of the East Village’s development.

The 4th story addition, built in the late 19th century over the original 3-1/2 story design, physically embodies the neighborhood's transition from exclusive, wealthy enclave to German immigrant community. Significant to the history of both the building and the neighborhood, in 1874 the building was converted to The Association for Befriending Children and Young Girls, and then in 1916 became the headquarters for the League of Foreign-Born Citizens. During this period the entire Lower East Side - including Kleindeutschland - became the most important center for immigration in the country.

We respectfully ask that the Landmarks Preservation Commission vote to designate 138 Second Avenue as soon as possible. Without landmark protection this important building will almost certainly fall prey to the neighborhood’s intense development pressures. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

cc: Hon. Rosie Mendez, NY City Council
Community Board 3 Manhattan

 

LESPI's Letter re NYC Council Legislation Intro 775

September 3, 2015

The Honorable Rosie Mendez
NY City Council
237 1st Avenue, # 504
New York, NY 10003

Dear Councilmember Mendez:

I am writing on behalf of the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative to express our strong opposition to NY City Council Intro 775, which establishes strict time limits on NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission landmarking procedures.

Landmark designation requires formidable amounts of historical research and political and community outreach. Our city’s political environment is increasingly complicated, and corporate real estate interests are pushing back harder than ever against historic preservation using their immense wealth and influence. New Yorkers looking to save their historic buildings and streetscapes face greater challenges than ever, and the LPC must navigate these shoals with the limited resources of a small government agency.

As shown in the August 25 letter prepared by the Historic Districts Council et al (of which LESPI is a signator), many of the city’s most cherished historic districts would likely not have been designated under this legislation’s deadlines, including the St. Mark’s Historic District and Extension within the historic East Village / Lower East Side, as well as such “superstars” as Soho-Cast Iron and Greenwich Village Historic Districts. Going forward, this legislation will certainly deprive our communities with the new landmark buildings and districts residents want and deserve.

We support providing LPC with additional funding to expedite the process of historical research. And we are not opposed to establishing target time frames for designation, but any targets must be generous and flexible, to allow for districts with particularly challenging circumstances to move forward. Furthermore, there should not be any moratorium on reintroducing districts that do not pass, to allow for changing circumstances and political climates. Finally, any new legislation addressing the landmarking process should not only respond to the LPC’s input, but to the input of preservation and community advocacy groups, who understand the process of landmarking in NYC and the need for policies to facilitate rather than obstruct the process of protecting our future landmarks.

We respectfully urge the Council not to enact this legislation. Thank you,

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

cc: The Hon. Melissa Mark-Viverito, NY City Council

[NOTE: identical letter sent to
Councilmember Margaret Chin]

 

LESPI's Letter to CB3 re NYC Rezoning Proposal

June 9, 2015

Gigi Li, Chair
Community Board 3, Manhattan
59 East 4th Street
New York, NY  10003

re: NYC DCP’s Proposed “Zoning for Quality and Affordability”

Dear Ms. Li:

Lower East Side Preservation Initiative is writing to ask Community Board 3 to oppose the NYC Department of City Planning’s proposed “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” text amendments. Our concerns focus on the city’s historic neighborhoods, some but not all of which are NYC historic districts, particularly within the traditional Lower East Side which extends from East 14th Street to south of Chinatown.

Our primary objection to this proposal is that, despite recent modifications to the plan, the rezoning treats the city with too broad a brush. Certain areas of the city may be suitable for this kind of upzoning. But many areas are not, including those where:

* Their special character is defined by low rise buildings, where light and open space predominate. This includes many historic neighborhoods both landmarked and not landmarked.

* The area has been built to a density where light and air have become limited, and severe wind tunnel effects have become more commonplace. Much of Manhattan as well as certain neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens fall within this group.

* Increased development pressure will result in further loss of the area’s existing low and moderate income residents and small businesses, which contribute significantly to neighborhood character and are often its “heart and soul.” A lot of new development results in the loss of these groups.

Although we are very supportive of income diversity and affordable housing for New Yorkers, we believe that this proposal’s broad brush approach to zoning disempowers communities, and relies on one-size-fits-all solutions which will necessarily show poor results.

We respectfully request that Community Board 3 request that the DCP review potential rezonings on a community-by-community basis.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

cc: Bruce Monroe, Lower East Side Preservation Initiative

 

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The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative is dedicated to preserving the historic streetscapes of the Lower East Side, including the East Village, Lower East Side below Houston Street, Bowery, Chinatown and Little Italy